Following on from the success of our “Four F’s article” the other week, we’ve got one final piece of advice from last year’s third place athlete, Matt Cooper. Matt is a big advocate of making sure that the mental side of your preparation is just as important as the physical, and as an NLP practitioner and Performance Coach, he knows a thing or two about this kind of stuff. In this guest article, Matt provides a few thoughts as to how to get yourself mentally prepared for the big dance…
‘Preparation’ is vital for these events. Physical health, nutrition, water, feet, support, weather, mental health and focus are all essential, but the fine line in these races (GNW specific), leading to dictate a DNF after your name or not, is what you do when your ‘preparation’ doesn’t go to plan. After all, even the best ultra race plans won’t go exactly to plan, that’s why we love them.
It is in these moments when you are at the 75km mark or the 130km mark and feelings start to override your thoughts, your focus, your determination, and your ability to keep going.
Something you might want to ask yourself here is the following: Is it your feelings of pain that are overriding your thoughts or is it your thoughts that are overriding and creating the pain? After all, does pain exist without thought?
As Ultra168 has already alluded to, in the last week of race preparation the doors are all but shut physically, but mentally they have never been open wider. In fact, it is this week that you stand at the fork in the trail. What you tell yourself this week about your race ‘preparation’ will have a great influence on your results.
When the feelings of pain, tiredness, exhaustion come into play throughout the run, it doesn’t matter how much prep you have done, if your thoughts fall below the line and go back to those such as… did I train enough, did I do enough hills, have I eaten right, did I drink enough, it wasn’t this hot when I trained, old injuries… it is only your answers here that will determine your consequence actions and therefore determine your result.
I encourage all the runners of this years’ GNW to engage in a few simple practices which will ensure their mindset is also in an optimum state, matching their already superior trained bodies.
I know many runners would have already done this, but it is also this week that is a great time to become very clear on the visualisation of crossing that line or kissing that pole. Take time this week to close your eyes, relax, breath and focus on creating that amazing picture – the end goal.
Picture the finish… if you haven’t seen it before yet, check out the race photos of previous years or ‘Google’ it. Picture seeing yourself there… Think of the smiles, the applause, the emotion of knowing that you have completed such an amazing feat, the support crew, Dave and the organisers and volunteers
Hear the sounds that you will hear, the cheering of your own support, the stillness of the moment, the internal praise of what you are saying to yourself “you did it”. Feel all the feelings that come along when you say that to yourself, the tingles, the overwhelming sense of achievement and pure dedication and know that you have now grown to a place that you never would have been before had you not put this vision in place and trusted in your own amazing ability.
Another simple practice for runners whilst out on the trail in those times when you catch your thoughts of not doing enough preparation, is to simply become aware of where you are right now. Grab a leaf from a tree (there’s plenty out there) or rub your hands in the dirt – bring your focus and energy back to the only place energy can ever exist – The Present. Smile, laugh or even cry and accept that it is purely only through thought that you can be defeated today, as without thought there is no energy loss or pain and you have all the re-sources you could ever need to complete a 100 miler/100ker.
If you’re interested in what Matt has to say and would like to hear more, Matt is offering exclusively to FIVE members of Ultra168 in the lead up week to GNW100 2011, a free Empowered Vision session where runners can undergo this powerful intervention.
Email Matt here – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sessions will go for no longer then 20-30 min and is purely individualised to the runners own race goals and run by the runners with simple guidance by Matt.
(Matt has International certification as an NLP practitioner, behavior profiler and Performance Coach, an internationally used performance tool for elite athletes.)